Best Online Tax Software for Simple Returns

How we picked the companies to evaluate:

NerdWallet reviewed the online packages from the four tax-software companies with the greatest market share and market presence, the latter measured by how heavily the companies are searched for on the internet. Some of these are NerdWallet partners; some are not.

How we chose the winner:

NerdWallet defined a "simple return" as one that includes wages and income from a W-2 and limited income from interest or dividends (less than $1,500); claims the standard deduction; and could claim the earned income tax credit or child tax credits. Because more than one software package we evaluated can process such a return, we narrowed the field in this order to arrive at our winner for the best tax software for simple returns:
  • Which packages can process a simple return for free?
  • Which packages also accommodate adjustments to income included on IRS Schedule 1 such as deductions for student loan interest, health savings accounts, IRAs and alimony paid?
  • Which remaining package has the highest score in our overall evaluation?
To more fully explain that final step: We evaluate each of a company's tax-software packages across the following criteria, listed in descending order of importance.
  • Ease of use and features.
  • Help and support options.
  • Price of software package.
  • Price of filing a state return.
  • Audit support options.
  • Refund options.

How we verified our data:

NerdWallet writers sent detailed questions to all reviewed companies. NerdWallet writers and editors also confirmed fees, rates, policies and other key features on each company's website.